1948 Indian Chief 1200cc Solo Motorcycle
Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Indian Motorcycle Company was the only motorcycle manufacturer able to compete on equal terms with the might of Harley-Davidson for the first half of the 20th Century. With its origins as a producer of bicycles, the partnership of George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom followed the familiar practice of building a powered version in 1901, using a proprietory Thor single horsepower engine, and from the emergence of the first V-twin in 1907, Indian quickly established itself as a maker of quality motorcycles. The growth in sales, combined with success on the racetrack, prompted an expanded model range, with a smaller 221cc two-stroke, then a flat twin, helping Indian secure the number one position ahead of arch rival Harley Davidson. The First World War saw production focus on supplying the US military but the return to peace saw the company consolidate the model range to the 500cc Scout and larger capacity Chief, with a common a 42-degree V-twin engine layout. Launched in 1922 at the instigation of Irishman and new vice president Charles B Franklin, who felt the dated Powerplus engine was due for replacement, the Chief’s new motor was certainly more advanced, with dual cams operating the valves and helical gears replacing the chain primary drive, with the clutch encased in an oil bath. A larger displacement 74-cid version was introduced as a Big Chief in 1923, intended for sidecar use initially although it quickly gained in popularity with solo riders as well. The Indian Chief remained a mainstay of the company right through until its untimely demise in 1953 and are today sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike.